It opened in the chill of The Great Depression, an ice rink that harbored Baltimore’s first hockey team and drew celebrated skating stars to strut their stuff. For a quarter of a century, folks flocked to Carlin’s Iceland to see pucks fly, or to watch Olympic champions like Sonja Henie dazzle all. Or just to skate themselves.
In December 1931, Carlin’s Park — a popular amusement park in northwest Baltimore — added Iceland, a converted ballroom with 3,000 seats that quickly built a following. High school hockey teams played there, as did the Baltimore Orioles, the city’s entry in the Eastern Amateur League. And ice shows, which featured local and international “fancy” (figure) skaters and won the hearts of crowds bent on escaping the woes of the times.
Spectators ran the gamut, from rowdy hockey fans itching for a fight to well-coiffed matrons enjoying an ice ballet from Faust. In 1933, an Orioles’ game ended with fists flying; police turned fire extinguishers on both players and fans to stop the brawl. Days later, the rink belonged to Henie, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who performed spins and twirls while wearing a white velvet dress trimmed with downy feathers.
For years, Iceland hosted winter carnivals — three-day, 20-act revues of everything from stilt-skating to the acclaimed comedy routines of brothers Eddie and Roy Shipstad and Oscar Johnson.
In 1956, the two-story stucco building burned to the ground, leaving the city without an ice venue until the Civic Center opened in 1962.